Now in its eighth generation, the iconic Porsche 911 boasts even greater performance and driveability. It’s surprisingly more civilised, too.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel


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DESPITE appearances, the car that you see on these pages is indeed the all-new eighthgeneration Porsche 911.

Successive models of this rear-engined icon have always looked evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but this latest version (internally known as the 992) takes design conservatism to a new level, looking barely distinguishable at first glance from its seventhgeneration (991) predecessor.

But closer scrutiny reveals quite a few subtle but significant changes. The fenders are more muscular, with the front pair swollen slightly to cover a front track that is 45mm wider than before.

And at the back, all models in the range now sport the widebody rear (and wider rear track) which was previously reserved for the all-wheeldrive and GT versions.

Wheel sizes are now staggered, with 20-inch rims at the front and 21-inch at the rear.

A broad indentation running down the centre section of the bonnet harks back to a similar feature from the earlier, air-cooled 911 generations, and further distinguishes the 992 from the 991.

The door handles are now recessed items that lie flush with the bodywork and only pop out when needed.

A 20mm stretch in overall length (although the wheelbase remains unchanged) has allowed for a longer, sleeker fastback silhouette, and the slightly higher-set tail is marked by ultra-slim tail lamps linked by the latest Porsche styling signature, a full-width LED light bar.

Above the tail lamps, a section of the rear end operates as an active rear spoiler, rising up in two progressive stages (at 90km/h and 150km/h respectively) to counter aerodynamic lift.

The 991 had a similar feature, but the spoiler on the 992 has a 45%-larger effective area.

At the front, the gaping rectangular air intakes in the outer extremities of the bumper incorporate continuously-variable active air flaps which adjust according to temperature, load and speed, and also to reduce lift when needed.

Increased use of aluminium rather than steel in the body (all the external body panels of the 992 are now aluminium, in fact) and careful weightparing from specific items like the seats and pedals has kept weight gain over the 991 to just 20kg, model for model, despite the 992’s slight growth in dimensions and extra equipment.

All told, the newcomer looks comfortably familiar, yet cleaner, squatter and more purposeful. It is particularly distinctive from the rear at night, with that unmistakeable light bar.

On the inside, the central dashboard air vents have migrated downwards (to, it must be said, a slightly less effective position), to make way for a 10.9-inch high-definition touchscreen which handles most of the secondary functions.

But thankfully climate and volume controls are still managed by physical dials and switches located just ahead of the gearlever, and there is also a row of toggle switches just below that big touchscreen, for quick access to hazard lights, damper settings, stability control and front lifter.

The gearlever is now a stubby rectangular block, like an oversized toggle switch. And for the first time on a 911, there is Keyless Go – firing up the car involves turning a rotary lever located next to the steering column, where you would previously have inserted the ignition key.

The instrument display, in traditional 911 fashion, has five circular dials, but now only the central rev counter is a physical dial, the others being virtual TFT ones.

The front seats are lighter than before (as a pair they shave 3kg off  the weight of the 991’s seats), and are supremely comfortable and supportive. The driving position is excellent, and visibility all round is great. Space in the rear, as always, is suitable only for children or midgets.

Porsche’s “Wet Mode” driving-assistance feature makes its entrance on the 992, and will soon filter down to the marque’s other models.

Acoustic sensors in the front wheel arches assess, from roadspray, if the road is wet, and the driver will then be prompted via the instrument display to switch to Wet Mode (either using the steering-mounted drive mode selector dial on Sport Chrono-equipped cars, or a dash-mounted toggle switch on regular cars).

This will automatically adjust throttle response and stability and traction control settings, to maximise stability.

Above 90km/h the rear spoiler will also adopt a maximumattack angle and the cooling air flaps in the front bumper will open, to maximise downforce.

A few laps on a soaked karttrack at the press launch proved that with Wet Mode activated, it is nigh-on impossible for even the most cack-handed and leadfooted driver to lose control.

The only powertrain currently available is the oneabove-base model ‘S’ version, which as before is a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-6.

Major tweaks include larger, symmetrical turbochargers, intercoolers repositioned to immediately behind the air intakes rather than behind the rear wheels, a newly-designed air intake layout, and fasteracting Piezo injectors.

Power is up by 30bhp to 444bhp, equalling the output of the previous 911 GTS. To aid weight distribution and reduce the pendulum effect of the rear-mounted powerplant, the engine itself has been shifted 14mm forward.

The dual-clutch PDK gearbox (a 7-speed manual will also be available) now has an additional ratio, bringing the total to 8, and it swaps ratios with even greater immediacy than before.

First gear is lower than it used to be, and top gear is higher – meaning keener low- end pickup as well as more relaxed high-speed cruising.

Thus equipped the rearwheel-driven Carrera 2S with optional Sport Chrono pack will hit 100km/h in 3.5 seconds, with a 308km/h top speed. Around the Nurburgring Nordschleife the new car is a full 5 seconds quicker than its predecessor, at 7 minutes 25 seconds.

So the 911 has even more ferocious pace now, but it is even more civilised too. The ride is more composed, soaking up bumps and ruts in almost saloon-car fashion, and road noise is better suppressed.

So too is engine noise, unless you choose otherwise by selecting Sport mode, which opens a flap in the exhaust to let out more of that flat-6 wail.

And it makes a great aural accompaniment to the engine’s delivery, which is immensely punchy yet beautifully linear from idle all the way to the 7500rpm redline.

The car corners with an unmistakeably 911 balance, yet is better than ever. That wider front track makes for massive front bite, quelling the old car’s slight understeer in tight bends and letting you dive into turns with far more commitment than before.

And once into the bend the weight of the engine sitting over the rear wheels gives immense traction, squatting the tail and allowing power to be applied as early as you dare.

The 992 benefits from a slightly quicker steering rack – 6% quicker on cars fitted with optional rearwheel steering, and 11% quicker on those without. Our C2S test car had the optional rear-steer, which proved a godsend on the narrow, hilly roads of our test route, rotating the car keenly around turns without the need for

extreme steering angles, so that even the tightest hairpins could be tackled without frantic twirling of the steering wheel.

The steering is meatilyweighted – more so than before – and demands a firm grip on the wheel down a twisty stretch, but there is also a wealth of feedback coursing through that leather rim to your fingertips and palms, telling you all you need to know about the tarmac conditions underfoot, and the extent of the front tyres’ grip.

The brakes (optional carbonceramic brakes on our test car) are well up to the task, as proven on track where they repeatedly wiped off huge speed lap after lap on approach to tight bends, with a reassuringly firm, easily modulated pedal.

The rear discs have grown by 20mm (to 350mm in diameter) – possible because of the 992’s one-inch increase in rear rim size.

The 992 may not look very different from its 991 predecessor, but under that familiar shape it is improved in virtually every area. Porsche’s crown jewel shines brighter than ever.

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New 911’s cockpit is snazzier and more high-tech than before, with Keyless Go finally making an appearance.
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The new Wet mode makes the 911 even more surefooted in nasty weather.
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A short drive in an all-wheel-driven C4S variant on some narrow, meandering country roads around the launch venue revealed a car with a slightly more grown-up character, with a touch less effervescence than its rear-driven sibling.

The helm is slightly lighter, and with virtually unimpeachable traction the chassis is able to handle the unleashing of midbend power even earlier than the C2S.

It may be 50kg heavier than its reardriven doppelganger, but the C4S overcomes its weight deficit with monumental off the-line grip, hitting 100km/h in a near supercar-rivalling 3.4 seconds (0.1 seconds ahead of the C2S).

On unpredictable, corkscrewing roads the C4S’ chassis feels even more planted and secure through turns, but at the expense of a small degree of driver interaction.

Because the drive being channelled progressively to the front end is helping to pull the car straight, there is a touch less rear squat and rearend fidget under power and on corner exit. The C4S would probably be quicker in mixed or wet conditions, especially on an unfamiliar road, but for sheer involvement the C2S is still the purist’s choice.

Now that both C2S and C4S have the same widebody rear end, you will have to squint a lot harder to tell them apart – apart from the badge on the tail, the only distinguishing feature is that the vertical slats on the rear of the C4S are chromed instead of blacked-out.
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Distinctive features include new LED headlamps and a pair of vertical third brake lights (top left).


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The weight of the flat-6 engine over the rear wheels gives the 911 immense traction.
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